The UK deserves and needs better than a lying, law-breaking Prime Minister – or the constitution will be wrecked, and the country with it. We are at a crucial inflection point, argues Andrew Levi:
Perhaps everyone’s clear about what’s happening; but if not, here goes.
Any minister, any MP, any journalist or other commentator, defending the Prime Minister over “Partygate” is asking you to believe three things. None of them is the slightest bit plausible.
In trying to pull off this deception, these people are helping wreck the country.
Three fairy tales:
“Reasonably necessary for work”
First, that the gatherings in question were reasonably necessary for work purposes.
That’s the condition the relevant legislation required. Whether they were “parties” isn’t the issue. (Although it’s true: a party could, indeed, never be reasonably necessary for work involving the Prime Minister, his colleagues, or his staff, during a pandemic).
“No criminal offence”
Second, that the Prime Minister, having accepted and paid the fine imposed by the police (and, almost certainly, there are more to come), and despite electing not to challenge it in court, nonetheless hasn’t accepted that he committed the criminal offence for which the police fined him; further, that he in fact didn’t commit such an offence.
Third, that in denying to Parliament, as he has done, that any rules were broken, the Prime Minister genuinely didn’t understand at the time of the events or, when later commenting on them in the House of Commons, that the gatherings were not reasonably necessary for work and that they were, therefore, breaches of the criminal law.
There’s a fourth, particularly insidious claim, often made implicitly, sometimes explicitly: that none of it really matters. It is, after all, just like getting a fine for parking your car six inches out of place one wet Sunday afternoon on a side street in Tunbridge Wells. Which we’ve all done, haven’t we?
Seeing the Prime Minister, ministers, MPs and others contort, deflect and dissemble to suggest there’s truth in these absurd, insulting claims, is to watch the brutalisation of the UK’s constitutional foundations by partisan thugs.
For the Prime Minister repeatedly further to debase himself – a tough task, to be sure – is one thing. But in doing so he also, far more importantly, violates the high office he holds. The same applies to ministers and MPs who defend him. The office he – and each of them – is privileged to occupy, belongs to us. Not to him. Not to them.
The UK’s constitution can’t function with a Prime Minister who breaks the law, or lies to Parliament, or both.
In the UK system it’s among the most important functions of the Cabinet to prevent such a Prime Minister – or one otherwise incapable of properly exercising the functions required of the office – continuing in the job: by refusing to serve under that Prime Minister’s leadership.
If the Cabinet won’t take the necessary action, the House of Commons must.
If the House of Commons won’t either, the UK enters a profound crisis.
One from which there’s no orderly or safe constitutional exit.
Coup or Revolution?
That means either:
🔹 a coup: lawless, unconstitutional government, with no real constraint on the executive, other than what it believes it can, or can’t, get away with;
🔹 revolution: a counter-coup of some kind.
That’s where the current Prime Minister, the current Cabinet, and the current House of Commons – so far willing, by a substantial majority, to tolerate the shredding of the UK’s constitution – have brought us.
To the very brink.
No one believes that the worst, most incompetent, most disreputable Cabinet in generations will do its constitutional duty. You’d be more likely to see pigs being issued with pilot’s licences.
Will the House of Commons find its backbone? It long since needed to. It has abjectly failed.
The Project Über Alles
Keir Starmer has spoken well, as have numerous MPs, including some on the government benches.
But that solves little.
The reason a lying, law-breaking, constitution-wrecking Prime Minister is in office, at the head of a lying, law-breaking, constitution-wrecking Cabinet, is that they and a Commons majority are needed to force through a disastrous Project across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, founded on lies, law-breaking & constitution-wrecking.
The Johnson-Frost-ERG Brexit.
Brexit, and particularly the grotesque Johnson-Frost-ERG choice of UK-as-21st-century-East-Germany Brexit, isn’t “just” the UK’s departure from the EU and a frontal attack on one of the two main pillars of Euro-Atlantic security, prosperity & well-being (the other pillar being NATO).
It’s hardly controversial any longer (though was once considered extreme, or “conspiracist”) to point out that Brexit is a deliberate effort to dismantle the constitutional order in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, against the interests of the vast majority of the population, to suit those of a tiny minority in the UK and elsewhere.
Whether the tiny minority in the UK will really benefit is another matter.
The Brexit purportedly being provided to a grateful populace is such a catastrophic farrago of nonsensical contradictions and fantasies that even Jacob Rees-Mogg is showing some slight signs of, very slowly, beginning to understand that the damage being caused means he and his friends are likely to be worse off than they would otherwise have been. For decades.
But, in practice, they will barely notice the effects of their Project. And, quite probably, they will actually be wealthier than now. Just not to the same degree – even with useful new tax avoidance opportunities – as they would have been without Brexit.
For the remaining 99.9 per cent of us in the UK it will be a much grimmer picture.
Hanging on to power
The Project – by virtue of its comprehensive detachment from reality, its viciousness toward those it is supposedly intended to help, and its need for sweeping executive power to bludgeon its way forward, regardless – requires wholesale lying, law-breaking and constitution-wrecking.
Continuation of The Project is the only way lying, law-breaking constitution-wreckers can hang onto power.
The prospect of losing power terrifies them. They fear retribution, anticipating it far more clearly than the rest of the country, which has not yet fully convinced itself to take revenge on them when the time comes.
That means the lying, law-breaking and constitution-wrecking has to continue.
Who Will Speak for Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
So what price Keir Starmer and the Shadow Cabinet, who say they support Brexit?
To be fair, they reject the current Brexit and propose a “better” one. But that “better Brexit” is a mirage – unless it involves the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland rejoining the EU’s customs union and single market, or substantially identical arrangements.
Even that is barely adequate or sustainable for our future security, prosperity and well-being. In any case, it isn’t what Labour is offering.
And what price the approximately one third of Conservative MPs who are still recognisably Conservatives, and who understand the disaster The Project is creating for our country?
They want an end to the lying, law-breaking and constitution-wrecking.
And yet they allow themselves to be held hostage by “RG” extremists (the ERG “European Research Group” and other “RGs”): a significant minority of Conservative Party MPs whose votes are needed for a Conservative majority in the House of Commons.; and by the “RG” fellow travellers (about another third of Conservative MPs).
There’s a Commons majority available to end all this.
It needs Labour to adjust its European policy to the economic and geopolitical realities which the SNP, Liberal Democrats and others already recognise.
It needs a substantial minority of Conservative MPs to embrace those same realities…
.. and one other: that the Conservative Party can no longer be their political home and that it has ceased to be capable of acting in the vital interests of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, as a minimum, journalists in the BBC and a few other significant media outlets need to be empowered, and courageous enough, to return to honesty, objectivity, decency, and robustness in their reporting and analysis of UK politics.
Unless and until MPs take the necessary steps, the lying, law-breaking and constitution-wrecking will continue. And escalate.
Perhaps a general election can save Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I hope so, of course, as do so many others. But the probability that it won’t – or that there won’t ever again be a meaningful or fair general election in the UK – is significant enough, and the consequences so appalling, that it’s mad to gamble on it.
The time to act was long ago. The people who needed to act were, above all, our MPs:those whose conscience and sense tell them that the lying, law-breaking and constitution-wrecking are wrong and disastrous for the country. and that the hideous lurch toward destruction must end.
Those MPs have failed us. Failed the country. Up to now.
We’re staring into the abyss. So, let’s take a deep breath and shout :
“The time to act is now!”
“Combine forces across the House of Commons!”
“Stop and reverse the lying, law-breaking and constitution-wrecking!”
That means ending and reversing the dire Johnson-Frost-ERG Project. Either it’s over, or the country is.
Boris Johnson’s departure from public office, along with that of his entire Cabinet, is necessary. The future of Great Britain and Northern Ireland depends on it.
It’s just the first step, but it is essential.
Without that, Great Britain and Northern Ireland will suffer a hangover such as even the revellers at one of the Prime Minister’s law-breaking pandemic parties cannot imagine.